In Fort Mill, art and history go hand in hand, and nowhere is it better illustrated than at the Fort Mill History Museum and its Samuel E. White Gallery.
The museum’s permanent exhibit, “Fort Mill History Through Artist’s Eyes,” features paintings created by local artists depicting life in this small town from the 1600s to the present day.
A 30-minute audio tour takes you through all of the museum’s displays, arranged to chronicle the growth of the town with stories of the people who played an important role in shaping its history.
The most impressive artifact is the building itself, a Victorian home built in 1866 as the residence of Stewart Wilson. Originally located on Main Street, it was moved around the corner in the 1930s to make way for the expansion of commercial properties.
The museum also includes a research library and gift shop. Admission is free. During your visit, be sure to check the schedule of events, which can include historic home tours, a downtown walking tour and lunch-and-learn programs.
For those who prefer to explore on their own, the museum offers an interactive web program that provides information on 44 noteworthy sites around town. Each site bears a sticker with the words, “This Building Has History” along with a QR code and URL address that allows you to access the history of the building or historical site with a smartphone or tablet.
Among the buildings featured in the program is Main Street’s First National Bank, built in 1920 and later converted into Fort Mill’s second city hall. Today it houses the Fort Mill Community Playhouse, where you can see local productions of musicals and plays, from “Driving Miss Daisy” to “My Fair Lady.”
Fort Mill is also home to one of the few Christian theater companies in the world. NarroWay Productions presents original, Broadway-style dinner shows year-round. The lineup of family-friendly entertainment includes musicals, mystery theater and children’s shows.
A number of festivals held each year offer more opportunities to experience arts and culture. The St. Phillip Neri Italian Festival in May features performances by a variety of musicians, including an accordionist, as well as a wine tasting and children’s parade.
Dabble in the arts? Fort Mill has several fun options to express your creativity. Chelsea & Savannah offers adult and children’s classes led by two professional artists; one studied at the Chelsea College of Arts in London, the other at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia.
You can also take your kids to Small Hands, Big Art, a children’s art studio at Kingsley Town Center. For crafters, there’s Nailed It D.I.Y. Studio, where you can create one-of-a-kind home decor.
If you’re into pottery, check out Olive’s Mud Puddle on Main Street. Its schedule of activities includes adult pottery wheel classes and special project workshops. It also has a gallery for works produced by local artists and studio founder Debbie Whitsett.